Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the House bicameral conference committee is prepared to sit with their Senate counterparts possibly starting next week “to come up with a common version of the budget.”
For his part, former speaker and Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano called on his colleagues in both chambers to guarantee transparency in the budget process and open to the public their respective versions of the budget measure before going to the bicameral process.
“This is to appease the public and ensure that no unconstitutional and individual insertions were made in the 2021 National Budget after the bicameral approval,” Cayetano said.
The Lower House already named the 21 members of its bicameral panel team. The group has started to meet to discuss the chamber’s stand when they meet with their Senate counterparts.
“These representatives will make sure there will be enough funds for the government’s COVID-19 response, especially the procurement of vaccines for an initial 20 million poor Filipinos and eventually for at least 60 million of our population,” said Velasco.
The House contingent will be led by ACT CIS Partylist Rep. Eric Go Yap, chairman of the Committee on Appropriations.
Back-stopping Yap are Deputy Speakers Mikee Romero (1PACMAN Partylist); Roberto Puno (NUP, Antipolo City) and Salvador “Doy” Leachon (PDP-Laban, Mindoro Oriental); Lito Atienza (BUHAY Partylist); Loren Legarda (NPC, Antique) and Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez
Also joining the majority bloc are Reps. Juan Pablo “Rimpy” Bondoc (PDP-Laban, Pampanga); Michael John Duavit (NPC, Rizal); Bernadette Herrera ,Eileen Ermita Buhain (Lakas-CMD, Batangas); Eric Martinez (NP, Valenzuela City); Joey Sarte-Salceda (PDP-Laban, Albay); Weslie Gatchalian (NPC, Valenzuela City); and Joseph Bernos (NP, Abra).
Representing the minority are Minority Leader and Abang Lingkod Partylist Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano and Rep. Edcel Lagman (Independent, Albay).
Velasco said the House team will move to ensure sufficient funding for the rehabilitation and recovery of communities devastated by recent typhoons, including Rolly and Ulysses.
“We should help our people rebuild their lives.”Let us also not forget President Duterte’s other priority programs like Build, Build, Build and his anti-poverty projects,” he said.
Cayetano insisted that prior to the approval of the budget measure by the bicameral panel, the funding program should be presented to the people “in order to avoid baseless mudslinging.”
“Kasi kung hindi, bulagaan na lang tayo, (Otherwise, we can be in for a surprise).” Cayetano told a press conference on Wednesday.
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